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Summer tyres? 4 season tyres? Winter tyres? It can be a little tricky to understand tyre terminology and find the category of tyres that best fits your needs. They now fall into three main categories, each with their own specific features, benefits and limitations. It’s important to understand the different types to make the right choice for you.
As the only point of contact between your vehicle and the road, tyres transfer the energy from the engine to the road surface, provide a stable trajectory and effective braking, withstand weight transfers and absorb shocks. In other words: they help keep you safe while you’re driving. That’s why making the right choice between different types of tyres is so important. Whether a standard car, 4x4 or SUV, all vehicles are rated for a certain size of tyres, as well as a specific tyre speed index and tyre load index. Lastly, to make the right choice you should also take into consideration the weather conditions in your region and their impact on the performance of your tyres. The first choice you will have to make will be between the three main categories of specific tyres:
These tyres, for sure the best-known type, are designed to work at temperatures above 7 °C where they perform best on both dry and wet surfaces.
They’re designed to deliver excellent results in terms of comfort and fuel consumption for road tyres, and grip and endurance on race tracks - in the case of Super Sport tyres.
Any drawbacks? They do their job less well on cold surfaces and are very poorly suited to snow-covered roads.
The advantages of snow tyres: designed to perform at temperatures below 7 °C, they do cope very well with wet and snow-covered surfaces. They are most commonly used to replace summer tyres for the winter season. Any drawbacks? They perform less well in temperatures above 7 °C and can produce more noise, so you should switch them with summer tyres in the summertime.
Having to change your tyres twice a year can be inconvenient and may make you want to consider opting for 4 season tyres instead, if they suit your needs.
(1) Average difference in the braking distance of a winter tyre compared to a summer tyre. Braking distance on a wet surface from 50 to 0 mph. TUV SUD 2013 tests, using 205/55 R15, conducted betwwen 4C and 6C.
(2) Average difference in the braking distance of a winter tyre compared to a summer tyre. Braking distance on a snowy surface
from 31 to 0 mph. TÜV SÜD 2013 tests, using 205/55 R16, conducted between -4°C and -6°C.
4 season tyres have become increasingly popular in recent years, probably due to their hybrid design that enables them to perform well in a wider range of weather conditions than summer tyres or winter tyres. They are significantly safer for drivers who are used to using summer tyres year-round, which is the case for most European drivers these days. As for those who are used to switching between summer tyres and winter tyres each year, opting for all season tyres (if driving conditions allow for it) makes their lives easier by allowing them to use the same tyres all year, so there’s no need to change them out every six months.